Interior view of the 2017.5 Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

Manufacturers are always updating their models to obviously stay abreast of the latest technology and consumer-driven advancements. But it’s not very often that they will make major enhancements in one model year and then offer a mid-year version with even more on board. Such is the case for the 2017.5 Rogue, Nissan’s versatile SUV, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.

The Rogue has earned a reputation for being a sporty, compact SUV with comfortable seating, good cargo carrying space, extra seating options and affordable pricing. It also has now earned a prestigious award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for its performance in crash tests: the “Top Safety Pick Plus” designation. To get this enhanced award, vehicles must have scored at least a “Good” rating in all five “Top Safety Pick” categories and then receive Advanced or Superior ratings for their front crash protection, thanks to an optional feature called Forward Emergency Braking. This is one of the features added to the 2017.5 mid-year enhancement. And it’s not optional, it’s standard.

Forward Emergency Braking helps the driver avoid collisions with vehicles and pedestrians ahead, by using sensors that first detect rapidly approaching obstacles, and then offering audible and visual warnings. The system senses if the driver is failing to take action fast enough, and applies an emergency brake to hopefully avoid the collision or reduce the damage should one be unavoidable.

Exterior view of the 2017.5 Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

It works, folks. I found out when a child dashed out into the street to chase a friend, running right in front of me. A frightening situation that became nothing more than a scary lesson for the both of us. I can only imagine how helpful this feature could be for commuters.

A first-ever Hybrid version is also available now in the mid-year offerings, and this was the model we were offered for a test drive.

The Nissan Rogue comes in three models – S, SV and SL, each with a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The Rogue Hybrid comes in two grade levels – the SV and SL, also in FWD or AWD. All can easily go from hauling the tribe on adventure trips in the mountains to getting cleaned up for a date night in the city.

All Rogues offer optional thee-row, seven passenger seating. On Hybrid versions, cargo carrying options found in the EZ Flex Seating System and Divide-N-Hide Cargo system is not available.

Our Hybrid version had a 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 engine and 176 Total Horsepower. It was quiet, and smooth, without any of the hesitation found at start up or stop in some other Hybrid engines. Pricing for Hybrid versions begins at around $26,240.

The Nissan hybrid engine inside the 2017.5 Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

Our test car also had an optional package, priced at $2,870. It included Nissan Connect with Navigation and Mobile Apps, a seven-inch color touch screen display, Nissan Voice recognition, SiriusXM radio, a Bose premium sound system, heated leather steering wheel, a panoramic moon roof that extended almost all the way to the cargo area, and motion activated tailgate. The package also included Around View Monitor. It uses four small but super-wide-angle cameras to give you a 360 degree view of objects around the vehicle, which is then displayed on the dashboard. Then, using a split screen, the system then takes those images and creates a virtual image of the vehicle from above. The “above” view is terrific for when you are parallel parking because it helps you see just how close you are to other cars and the curb. The street-level screen is really helpful in letting you know just how close you are to people or objects, even as you back out of parking spaces. It would be a great thing to have on board if you have young drivers who are just getting the hang of such things as parallel parking and moving around safely in parking lots.

In all, that Optional package was one very nice collection of features all bundled together.

Exterior view of the 2017.5 Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

Out on the road, I found the seats to be very comfortable, visibility was good and acceleration smooth and swift. Our rear passengers had plenty of leg and hip room, even for the one in the rear middle. The rear seats had AC vents for enhanced passenger comfort.

The rear cargo area is good sized and deep, which helps when you’re bringing home a week’s load of groceries or all those landscaping materials from the home and garden center.

Standard safety features include front seat active head rests, which should help reduce whiplash risks in the event of a rear-end collision, Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Overall, the Nissan Rogue continues to impress and these 2017.5 versions just keep getting better. No matter which model you pick, you’ll find a comfortable crossover SUV packed with some really nice-to-have standard features and leading edge technology. If you’re opting for the Hybrid versions you’re getting an impressive 33 mpg on average and a smooth, swift ride.